Friday, May 24, 2013

Time to get wet!

I am posting a couple days early as I am going to do my best to turn off the brain (working part anyway) for the next 3 days to enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend.  With warmer weather approaching and many outdoor pools around the country opening up for the first time this year, I thought it might be helpful to review a few basics of the pool and open water.  First reminder put on sunscreen so you can better enjoy that first dip in the pool, or if your lucky enough a lake or ocean swim during the holiday weekend.

Ok, pool first.....

  • Before entering the pool, check to see if anyone else is in the lane.  If so, make sure you communicate with your lanemate on whether you are going to split the lane (swim side by side) or circle swim (counter clockwise).  If more than 2 people then you will need to circle swim.
  • Enter feet first in a cautious manner.  Make sure none of your lanemates are going to be in harms way as you enter the water.  
  • Now if this is a masters swim practice, chances are you will be grouped with people of similar speed, so you will just need to figure out your swimming order.
  • If you are swimming with people you do not know, then use your warm up laps to help determine your lanemates speed.
  • In either situation, you want to avoid swimming right on someones's feet as this can be unsafe when dealing with the turn and help minimize potential collisions coming off the wall.
  • If you notice that your lanemates are catching up to you rather quickly, two things you can do,   1. as you approach the wall,  just pull to the right corner of the lane and let them pass.  Think slow traffic, keep to the right.  2. Switch to a lane that has swimmers more inline with your speed.
  • If you choose to wear fins, paddles or both don't run over your lanemates (aka crawl up their butt) or change the lane dynamics due to your increased speed.  Good rule of thumb when wearing gear, you need to accommodate to their speed, not them trying to keep up with you.

The open water.....

  • Know the conditions and "when in doubt, don't go out" 
  • Wind, water temp and visibility can change quickly, so pay attention
  • Swim with a buddy or group of buddies.  If you do choose to swim alone, let someone know that you are doing so.
  • Wear a swim cap (bright colors better for visibility)  Helps you also stay a bit warmer too.
  • Like the pool, enter feet first to play it safe.  Submerged objects in the water can be dangerous.
  • If wearing a wetsuit, don't forget some bodyglide or vaseline to minimize chaffing and make it easier to get the wetsuit off after the swim.
  • If your doing a group workout, to get ready for an open water swim or triathlon, this is a great time to practice swimming on peoples feet to practice drafting.  Courtesy tip* Do your best not to smack the crap out of the person's feet you are following.
  • If in the ocean, practice some in's and out's so you can get more familiar with the waves and how to safely navigate them when starting and finishing your swim.
  • From a navigational stand point, try and pick non-moving land object (group of trees, big rock, house, etc. vs an object floating in the water (buoy or floating boat) as these will have a tendency to shift with wind/current.

There are plenty of things to add to both lists, but these suggestions should help you have a better swimming experience.  If you have any questions about swimming in the pool, open water or interested in finding out more about my coaching services, please contact me at 

Have fun in whatever you get yourself into over the holiday weekend!

Coach Eric

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

No Training Today

When planning a schedule for a triathlete a coach must consider the demands of training for 3 sports, the athletes current level of proficiency in those sports, time available to train, race goals, etc... But more importantly is the rest days or recovery weeks in training that help allow the athlete to recover from the stress of training, and adapt to a new level of fitness.  In my opinion, it is better to come into a race 10% under trained than 1% over trained.  Rest is an important part of training (see March 4th blog post) but sometimes the type A or double AA triathlete has a hard time figuring out what to do with themselves on a rest day/recovery week.  So, here are just a few things you can do when the schedule calls for a little down time, to prevent you from going nuts.

Rent or go to a movie

Watch a sunset

Take a nap

Go for an easy 20-30 minute walk

Call an old friend

Read anything non-sporting related

Try a new recipe

Volunteer at a race

Get a massage

Go grocery shopping

Have your favorite dessert because you can

Make your own energy snacks

Catch up on laundry/house chores

Did I mention take a nap?

Go listen to some live music

Bike maintenance

Play an instrument or learn a new one

Find a free community event to attend

Rest days/recovery weeks are an important for both the body and mind. Incorporate them into your training plan to stay healthy, happy and balanced as you move towards your fitness goals.

Make it a great week,
Coach Eric

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why Tri?

Yesterday for Mother's Day, I had the opportunity to race in a local, grassroots sprint triathlon here in Fort Collins, CO.  Yes, I did call my mom after I finished the race to not only wish her Happy Mother's Day, but to thank her for the good gene pool aka... my mitochondrial DNA.  Yup, you get that from your mom too and a topic of discussion for a future post.

It was great to see people of all ages participating, some of which were doing so for the first time.  The event was well run with the course the same from previous years.  Great volunteers and a friend pointed out how nice it was on the bike to have every single intersection monitored so the athletes could focus on riding fast.  The distances were a 450yard pool swim where we zigged and zagged the short course lanes of a long course pool, a 12 mile bike looping 3 times around so it was spectator friendly and a 3 mile run.  After the race, we went back to the Fort Collins Club for a yummy post race pancake breakfast, and more socializing with friends.

So, why do people do Triathlon's?  Some come to the sport after being injured in another sport, others may be looking for a bucket list item.   Some are looking for a new challenge or want to burn a few more calories so they can enjoy a "little" more freedom in their food choices.  Some of us just like the diversity in training and the endless ways to combine swim, bike and run into a healthy, balanced lifestyle.  New friends, new places to exercise, new workout clothes.

Often times you hear people say, "I will do it if you do it" over dinner and drinks.  Then, the next morning you wake up and your signed up for your first race.  That's how I ended up doing my first marathon when a friend came to a spin class I was teaching and told me he was considering his first marathon.  I told him "if you do it I'll do it"  Sure enough, the next day he comes to the pool and tells me he signed up.  I distinctly remember walking downstairs after that first marathon and that lovely feeling in my thighs as if someone was sticking ice picks in them with each step.   Moving on....

Whatever your reasons are for trying a triathlon, keep it fun and try to embrace the grassroots feeling whenever you can.  Sure, some of the races today are quite large and feel like they are all business, but even then, you can make a choice to race your best and have a good time doing it.  Keep a smile on your face, thank a race official or volunteer after the race or better yet during the race if you can spare the oxygen.

I have been racing Tri's since 1986 and yesterday brought back some great memories from that first race which was also a sprint tri.  No timing chips, no wetsuits, no aero bars, T1 & T2 is where you leaned your bike against the curb and then tried to remember what part of the curb you left your shoes on when you came back from the ride.   Nudity, not a problem because you just raced in your speedo.  Post race I split a large pizza and six pack of beer with two buddies and I can still hear their voices to this day as we recounted the fun we had just playing in the sports we loved.

So, whether you decide to try a triathlon or any other sport, when in doubt, keep it simple & have fun!

Make it a great week,
Coach Eric

Monday, May 6, 2013

Just exercise

With all the technology available today to analyze training data (speed, cadence, power, distance, heart rate, etc...) it is very easy to get caught up in the numbers and over think things.   Don't get me wrong, having some hard, quantifiable data is very helpful in measuring how training is coming along and if progress is being made.

Equally important are the workouts from time to time when you leave technology at home.  No Garmin's or Polar watches to measure the above data items, no iPods or smart phones to play your music.  Just you, the clothes you exercise in and the additional items needed to complete the exercise are all that is needed.  After a good warm up of 10-15 minutes, just allow yourself to settle into what ever pace your body/mind is feeling like for that particular day.  Do your best to tune into your surroundings both on what you see, and what you hear and continue to adjust the pace as your body dictates.

In addition to leaving the technology at home here are a few other things you can incorporate a workout that can help you just enjoy the the exercise experience and add a little variety

  • Try taking a different route on your next ride/run or walk.  
  • Swim in a different lane at the pool or try a new stroke  
  • Get caught up with a friend you have not seen in a while by going on a "social pace" workout.
  • If possible, get off the roads and on the trails
  • Focus on the best technique possible since you have no idea how fast/far you are going
The bottom line is that exercise is just  good for you. Getting started some days may be the hardest part, but know that you will almost certainly feel better at the end of the workout in both body, mind and spirt.

Make it a great week
Coach Eric